Interactive White Boards – Are they worth the investment?

 There has been a lot of recent discussion on whether Smartboards and Panaboards are worth their cost, especially in a high school setting. Have a read of some of the following discussions occuring on the value of IWBs:

http://tinyurl.com/yz4erol

http://tinyurl.com/3yr9qc
http://tinyurl.com/yfzl3zl

http://tinyurl.com/28h2cbz

Anecdotally, at least, it would seem that most teachers are using them for little more than large projectors for PowerPoint presentations and videos. If that was the case, wouldn’t a data projector do they same thing at a far cheaper cost?

Other teachers say that the interactive type lessons you can create using Notebook or Activstudio are great for revision, recall and gimickry that is suitable for our lower ability students but have no application for higher order thinking and skill development.

Oh, and the lessons take ages to prepare, at least for beginners, and who has the time  when the benefits aren’t that great?

I LOVE my IWB but I have to admit that some of what other teachers have been saying is valid. I know I certainly don’t use the interactive features as much as I did in the beginning (unless I am reusing a Notebook I have already created) and that often it is little more than a glorified projector. I feel guilty that I am not using it to its full potential when so much money has been invested into putting it into my classroom.

From all the discussion it is obvious that to make the IWB revolution a success we need to allow time and support for training as well as teaching teachers how to use them as a quality learning opportunity. As was said it is not the tool itself that is valuable, it is what happens because of it that is important.

With all that in mind, I am running a project for high schools on the Mid North Coast on upskilling teachers on the use of IWBs. Teachers from the different high schools will come together to create a series of interactive activities/lessons/units that make use of all the features of Notebook. They will have training in Notebook, have a resource pack full of “how tos”, and most importantly time to play, experiment and create valuable resources. The focus will be on creating quality lessons that challenge and extend the students.

The teachers will also have mentor training so that when they get back to school they can support other teachers to not only use the resources they created but also teach them how to make their own.

Hopefully, the project will start to see a more meaningful and consistent use of IWBs across the region’s classrooms. Mine included. I will let you know next term how it all goes.

I would love to hear your comments on the pros and cons of IWBs. How are you using them in your classroom?

PS – here are the draft pre surveys we are using to gather data for our project. They might be of use to you.

IWB SURVEY     Student IWB survey

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About madiganda

Head Teacher English and now literacy consultant, passionate about English, education and embracing the future. Oh and a reality tv fan!
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4 Responses to Interactive White Boards – Are they worth the investment?

  1. Simon Job says:

    I have an IWB in my maths classroom.

    I mostly use the ability to annotate over anything, be it PowerPoint, Word, the web.

    However, I would not like to see anymore IWBs installed at my school until every classroom has a projector.

  2. madiganda says:

    The ability to annotate is very effective and something I also use just about every lesson. I especially love the way I can stop a film and highlight different aspects of the frame to make the various techniques clear. I guess you could do something similar with just the computer and projector but not quite so effortlessly.

    You could certainly install 5 projectors for the cost of one short throw Smartboard. That is why we need to spend some time getting teachers to use them to their potential.

  3. Nordin says:

    Interested in your opinions now, four months later…

    • madiganda says:

      Yes, I still think IWBs are worth the investment, especially the ones with finger touch control and a short throw projector like SMART Boards. They are so much easier to use than a simple data projector and computer and allow student involvement far more efficiently.

      The thing is, like any tool, the people that use it need to be trained to use it properly. The project I wrote about in my latest post was a way to ensure that teachers actually started to see the potential of the IWB and, more importantly, start using those features regularly based on their subject and topics.

      The feedback from those that undertook the project has been outstandly positive. The teachers are now starting to use them interactively and creating whole units implementing the many supplied tools, internet links, video etc to engage students (and themselves).

      Now the IWB is starting to loose its gimick status and is growing as a tool to assist teachers challenge their students. That has to be a good thing.

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